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Offline Experience111

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Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« on: August 24, 2019, 10:44:00 AM »
Hi everyone,

So just a bit of context, I visited Napoli for a week approximately 5 years ago and discovered the greatest pizzas I could have imagined. Ever since I came back in my home country, I have failed to find any restaurant that even came close and they're too expensive anyway so I thought I would buy a small pizza oven for my own use.

I don't plan to have pizza parties any time soon, if ever, this is for personal use or with maximum 3-4 people. I am a complete beginner, I have only prepared a pizza dough once with a very simplified recipe and I have never operated any kind of special oven.

I was originally eyeing the Roccbox but it seems quite expensive and I have heard it is overkill for beginners. I then came across the Ooni Koda which is quite significantly cheaper (almost half the price) and seems to offer similar functionalities for the purpose of making pizzas.

It's very hard for me to navigate through all this. What are the key differences between the Ooni Koda and the Roccbox when they are gas operated?

What do you think would be best suited for me?

Thank you in advance!  ;D

Offline champignon

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2019, 09:50:19 PM »
Hi everyone,

So just a bit of context, I visited Napoli for a week approximately 5 years ago and discovered the greatest pizzas I could have imagined. Ever since I came back in my home country, I have failed to find any restaurant that even came close and they're too expensive anyway so I thought I would buy a small pizza oven for my own use.

I don't plan to have pizza parties any time soon, if ever, this is for personal use or with maximum 3-4 people. I am a complete beginner, I have only prepared a pizza dough once with a very simplified recipe and I have never operated any kind of special oven.

I was originally eyeing the Roccbox but it seems quite expensive and I have heard it is overkill for beginners. I then came across the Ooni Koda which is quite significantly cheaper (almost half the price) and seems to offer similar functionalities for the purpose of making pizzas.

It's very hard for me to navigate through all this. What are the key differences between the Ooni Koda and the Roccbox when they are gas operated?

What do you think would be best suited for me?

Thank you in advance!  ;D

No one can tell you what is the best oven for you.  If you can get your built in home oven up to 500-550, you could take a stab at baking within it at these temps, with a stone or steel.  This will work best for thicker pizzas with a lot of toppings, that sort of pizza having time to cook through and through at a lower temperature.

Since you were attracted to pizzas based on a trip to Naples, it might be that you are seeking Neapolitan type pizzas which in that case requires an oven that can get quite hot.  Practically speaking, you will then either be looking at a gas powered outdoor oven (note; I'm not an Ooni Fan, from personal experience with an Ooni Pro, a piece of junk if I ever saw one) or maybe the Breville indoor oven.  There is no other 110v indoor oven that can reach NP temperatures, although a 220v oven likely would.

I have a Waring WPO500 110v commercial pizza oven, as well as an Ardore gas (natural gas) oven.  The ardore has recently had a huge price increase and is probably not worth considering right now in the light of other options, based solely on the price.  I really love my Waring oven and use it 95% of the time now.  It has no trouble getting to 800F and beyond, although I usually use it at 700-750F, which works great for thin crust pizzas with moderate toppings.

Like most hobbies and interests, the more you spend on equipment, the easier it usually is to get good results, which is contrary to what most people might guess, but in fact is true.

Offline foreplease

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2019, 10:15:31 PM »
Good answer above. This nearby thread may help you with the differences between ovens.
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=57196.0
-Tony

Offline Yael

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2019, 03:17:16 AM »
High temp ovens will need more baking skills, so I would also suggest to gain experience with your home oven: dough ball opening, topping, peel handling, baking... Once you know all that, you can buy a new oven.

Besides (and paradoxically), high temperature baking is somewhat easier in the fact that if your dough is correctly fermented, you'll have 99% chances to get a good result (good coloration, good spring oven etc). But in a lower baking temp, it's not that easy (you need to find solution(s) to get a good coloration, a good optimization of the low temp...), and my point is that you will learn much more about pizza making this way!
I don't know, it's like race cars: if you start with a Ferrari, you'll have hard time mastering the speed, but as it's fast, you can win the race. If you only drive a regular car, you'll have to be crafty to make better timings every lap (you'll have to know your car perfectly, knowing the curves, the asphalt, your tires... literally everything).
Of course, if you're a Ferrari master, then you'll be invincible! Understand my meaning? :-D
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Offline Experience111

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2019, 04:44:48 AM »
Thanks for the input. It looks like the best option for me would be a Roccbox considering the insane price of the Ardore. I get the point about practicing on low temp ovens before getting a high temp one but it seems off considering that my preferred style is Neapolitan- this is the main reason why I find the rest quite dull anywhere I go- why spend so much time on a home oven that I'll have to learn to master if I'll never use it again to make pizza anyway?

In case I'm not satisfied with the Roccbox or find it overkill for my usage, how easy will it be to resell it and how much value will it lose just from being secondhand?

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Offline Yael

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2019, 06:21:00 AM »
Thanks for the input. It looks like the best option for me would be a Roccbox considering the insane price of the Ardore. I get the point about practicing on low temp ovens before getting a high temp one but it seems off considering that my preferred style is Neapolitan- this is the main reason why I find the rest quite dull anywhere I go- why spend so much time on a home oven that I'll have to learn to master if I'll never use it again to make pizza anyway?

[...]

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Offline champignon

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2019, 06:33:05 PM »
Thanks for the input. It looks like the best option for me would be a Roccbox considering the insane price of the Ardore. I get the point about practicing on low temp ovens before getting a high temp one but it seems off considering that my preferred style is Neapolitan- this is the main reason why I find the rest quite dull anywhere I go- why spend so much time on a home oven that I'll have to learn to master if I'll never use it again to make pizza anyway?

In case I'm not satisfied with the Roccbox or find it overkill for my usage, how easy will it be to resell it and how much value will it lose just from being secondhand?

Your ability to resell it will depend upon (1) your location, the bigger the city the better, probably, and, (2) How much you like selling used items and your toleration and patience.

As to resale price put yourself in the position of your buyer; unless the item is rare and hard to get, once used a big discount is going to be expected, otherwise, why not buy a new one with a warranty?  I'd figure a 50% haircut, assuming that the oven is in good functional and cosmetic condition, less for worse condition.

Offline jsaras

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2019, 06:46:52 PM »
Thanks for the input. It looks like the best option for me would be a Roccbox considering the insane price of the Ardore. I get the point about practicing on low temp ovens before getting a high temp one but it seems off considering that my preferred style is Neapolitan- this is the main reason why I find the rest quite dull anywhere I go- why spend so much time on a home oven that I'll have to learn to master if I'll never use it again to make pizza anyway?

In case I'm not satisfied with the Roccbox or find it overkill for my usage, how easy will it be to resell it and how much value will it lose just from being secondhand?

Although I will be the first to admit that Neapolitan pizza is a genre unto itself that requires one's full attention, you can still learn much by experimenting with other styles of pizza.  Pizza al taglio, is as challenging as Neapolitan in its own way.  I think that the experience of handling highly hydrated dough is invaluable, and a pan for that style is inexpensive. 
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Online Jackitup

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2019, 01:19:02 AM »
I agree with some of the others. Most everyone here started with a good stone in our home oven and STILL use it when it's crappy outside! Get a good Fibrament or California stone, at least 3/4 to 1 inch thick and hone your skills. Save the bigger purchase for later as you evolve! You won't ever need to sell your oven stone, you'll  love it! I have the PP Passione and used the home oven tonight as it was raining out. Start modest, nothing wrong with kitchen oven bakes, AWESOME tool for many breads and baguettes too!!!
Jon

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Offline amolapizza

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2019, 05:41:20 AM »
My suggestion would also be to make some practice pizza in the home oven before you invest in a better oven.  You might find that there is a learning curve, it's simply not as easy as finding a recipe, dumping some ingredients in a mixer and shoveling a pizza into a hot oven, it does take some practice..!  In the mean time you'll be picking up skills at mixing, working the dough, forming pizza and baking them, and chances are that even if not neapolitan they will be much better than what you get in restaurants.

Like that you'll have most of the needed skills once you buy a oven that gets really hot, and you'll have time to study and maybe save up for a better oven.  Personally I can't advice you on the ovens that you mention as I have no experience with them, but my fathers advice comes to mind.  "Save your money and buy something really good, as there is little point in buying something two or three times".  And if not, it seems that people bake a decent pizza in say the ooni so go for it, but be prepared for some trial and tribulation in the beginning :)
Jack

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Offline megan45

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2019, 08:00:42 PM »
why spend so much time on a home oven that I'll have to learn to master if I'll never use it again to make pizza anyway?

 ::)

My nephew wants to be an F-35 pilot. Why does he have to spend so much time flying trainers, simulators, and other aircraft if he'll never fly them again once he finishes flight school?

If you think the skills and techniques for making pizza dough and baking at sub-800°F aren't directly transferable to baking at 900°+, you're either incredibly naive or ignorant. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's the way it is. If you're not willing to put in the time and effort to develop and hone your skills and techniques on equipment that provides a large margin for error, you're going to struggle far longer on equipment that provides a very small margin for error than you would have otherwise, because when something goes wrong, you won't have a clue about what you're looking at, the probable causes, and how to fix it.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2019, 08:02:16 PM by megan45 »

Offline champignon

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2019, 11:07:53 PM »

 ::)

My nephew wants to be an F-35 pilot. Why does he have to spend so much time flying trainers, simulators, and other aircraft if he'll never fly them again once he finishes flight school?

If you think the skills and techniques for making pizza dough and baking at sub-800°F aren't directly transferable to baking at 900°+, you're either incredibly naive or ignorant. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's the way it is. If you're not willing to put in the time and effort to develop and hone your skills and techniques on equipment that provides a large margin for error, you're going to struggle far longer on equipment that provides a very small margin for error than you would have otherwise, because when something goes wrong, you won't have a clue about what you're looking at, the probable causes, and how to fix it.

"Sub-800F" covers a lot of ground  ;D

I wasted a fair amount of time trying to make pizzas on a stone in an oven that would not get above 450F, and that time was basically wasted for what I like to eat.  I did not produce one pizza that I ate for any reason other than avoiding food waste.

I think that if your home oven can get to 550F, than the home oven with a stone or steel, (or BBQ with a stone) is probably worth a try.

On the other hand, compared to many other hobbies and interests, making pizzas at home is a pretty cheap endeavor.  I would argue that having a good mixer (not your old KitchenAid) is almost as important as a good oven, unless you want to get arthritis in your hands.

The sorts of ovens that most home users here buy cost less than $1000.  The worst thing that is going to happen if you buy one of them is that you will either mess up a bunch of pizzas (which costs little), or you will find that you don't really enjoy pizza making and you'll abandon the hobby.  No big deal in any case.  Probably, whatever you buy, as long as it is reliable and of decent quality, you will figure out how to use it and in short order you will be making pizzas that please you and your guests.  The learning curve in this hobby just isn't that steep, which is not to say that you can't continue to improve over many years of experience.  But when you compare the average person's likely results after a few tries, to what they can buy in their local areas, the bar is so low that (relative) success is more or less assured.

Offline HansB

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2019, 08:31:50 AM »
Just a thought: Pizzaiolo in Italy learn to make pizza in a wood fired oven. They don't work their way up from low temp ovens...
Hans

Offline enchant

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2019, 10:03:50 AM »
I would argue that having a good mixer (not your old KitchenAid) is almost as important as a good oven, unless you want to get arthritis in your hands.

I would probably argue against that.  OP said he's not looking to make pizzas for a large crowd, so he's not going to need a 10-qt mixer or anything.  My KitchenAid mixer does just fine, and a "better than KitchenAid" mixer is going to set you back a serious chunk of cash.  If you're looking toward buying an oven, that money might be better spent toward the oven.
--pat--

Offline HansB

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2019, 10:35:50 AM »
I would probably argue against that.  OP said he's not looking to make pizzas for a large crowd, so he's not going to need a 10-qt mixer or anything.  My KitchenAid mixer does just fine, and a "better than KitchenAid" mixer is going to set you back a serious chunk of cash.  If you're looking toward buying an oven, that money might be better spent toward the oven.

I agree, I cannot remember when I last used a mixer for my NP dough.
Hans

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Offline champignon

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2019, 10:49:59 AM »
I would probably argue against that.  OP said he's not looking to make pizzas for a large crowd, so he's not going to need a 10-qt mixer or anything.  My KitchenAid mixer does just fine, and a "better than KitchenAid" mixer is going to set you back a serious chunk of cash.  If you're looking toward buying an oven, that money might be better spent toward the oven.

If you use a KA, you really need to make very small batches and to follow the directions closely (I think you need to use speed "2" and you can't run it for more than 2 minutes); otherwise you are likely to burn up your motor (ask me how I know this).

For those living in 220v land, there are lots of small commercial mixers out there that won't break the bank and you could always buy a used one for pennies on the dollar.  For use in N. America with 110v, there is at least one small commercial (1HP) mixer worth a look; the Atosa 10 quart.  When I was looking I saw another one or two that looked very similar but were sold with unknown brand names.  Atosa is a huge company with a number of warehouses across the USA, and a good reputation in the food services industry.  This is to say that you probably could get your Atosa mixer fixed if need be, not so sure about the other ones.  I bought one new for less than $750, in fact I think I got a bit of a deal on it and got it for less than $700, but the price likely has gone up since.  A mixer like this will allow you to make a~5 lb batch of dough, and you can freeze the extra dough balls after the initial 24 hour cold fermentation.  I get ~10 dough balls per batch and it really simplifies things.  But to each his own!

If you do buy a small "commercial" mixer, beware of the (often expensive) supposedly commercial mixers with small motors, like 1/4 or 1/2 HP; they are not up to the job of mixing a batch of this size, and in that case the argument for buying one over the KA you likely already have is not a strong one.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 10:51:56 AM by champignon »

Offline enchant

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2019, 11:08:29 AM »
If you use a KA, you really need to make very small batches and to follow the directions closely (I think you need to use speed "2" and you can't run it for more than 2 minutes); otherwise you are likely to burn up your motor (ask me how I know this).

I go back and forth between hand- and machine-kneading.  If I do use my KA 6-qt mixer, I make 3 1-lb balls at once.  I can do 4 at once, but it requires more tending.  I've made up to three batches in a row, 5 min ea (so total 15 min) at speed 2 without any problems.
--pat--

Offline champignon

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2019, 02:28:01 PM »
I go back and forth between hand- and machine-kneading.  If I do use my KA 6-qt mixer, I make 3 1-lb balls at once.  I can do 4 at once, but it requires more tending.  I've made up to three batches in a row, 5 min ea (so total 15 min) at speed 2 without any problems.

Kitchenaid was originally a part of Hobart, who continues to produce very high end commercial appliances.  Hobart sold the KA brand,  which at the time (I believe) was only producing stand mixers and dishwashers, to Whirlpool.  Not surprisingly, Whirlpool cheapened the products considerably, and in addition did brand extension with the KA name to basically be a higher trim level version of other appliance lines, such as refrigerators.  The KA mixers are "assembled" in the USA but not made of US parts, and overall quality has declined considerably.  This is to say that your current KA offerings are not what your grandmother used to buy under this name.  Warranty periods have been reduced, generally to 1 year in the case of the mixers.

Giving credit where credit is due, if your KA mixer does die during the 1 year warranty period, KA has a very responsive customer service dept., and they will send you a new mixer and pay to pick up the old one.  They can afford to do this because most people end up having these things as basically kitchen decoration, seldom if ever used, but looking nice on the counter in the wide array of available colors.

If you do plan to make quantities of pizza dough on a regular basis, you might be able to get by with a carefully used KA mixer, but I would advise against it, even including their supposed commercial line, which has under-powered motors.  The same can be said for the Vollrath 110v "commercial" mixer, which should be better than it is but it isn't; I'm otherwise a big fan of that brand and love their panini maker that I use several times a week.

Offline enchant

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2019, 04:21:42 PM »
I can only go by my own experience.  I bought my KA mixer during Black Friday sales in '16 for $210.  I make 2-3 loaves of bread per week - 2.25 lb dough balls for 5 min.  Then I make the 3 lbs of pizza dough every 3 weeks.  Each time, it's a 5 min kneading process at speed 2.
--pat--

Offline megan45

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Re: Oven appropriate for a beginner?
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2019, 06:16:41 PM »
Just a thought: Pizzaiolo in Italy learn to make pizza in a wood fired oven. They don't work their way up from low temp ovens...

But they also don't just jump in and start baking from the get-go: they go through an (often extended, intensive) apprenticeship under the tutelage of an experienced pizzaiolo to learn and solidify ALL the basic skills and techniques before they start manning the oven.

I don't know of any NP, or other style of pizza, restaurant of any renown that takes someone fresh off the street with no prior exprience and has them prepare the dough, stretch and top the skins, and fire them, much less serve them to their customers, from day one. Heck, even PH, PJs, Dominos, and Little Caesar's don't do that.

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